For 13 minutes on Jan. 6, 2021, as smoke clouded the air and Vice President Pence hid from rioters in his Capitol office, his Secret Service detail scrambled — in increasingly frantic radio messages — to clear a path for Pence to flee the Capitol. On Thursday, the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack released harrowing video and audio that showed just how perilously close Pence and his protective detail came to danger, detailing how the protesters whom President rump had riled up turned their anger on the man he blamed for failing to overturn the results of the 2020 election. “We need to move now,” an agent said “If we lose any more time, we may lose the ability to do so.” Pence’s Secret Service detail described smoke of unknown origin filling a hallway of the Capitol and protesters advancing on outnumbered police, the Washington Post reports. “Harden that door up,” one agent said.
A White House security official told the committee that agents were “starting to fear for their own lives.” “There were calls to say goodbye to family members, so on and so forth,” the security official said. “For whatever the reason was on the ground, the VP detail thought that this was about to get very ugly.” Communications of Pence’s Secret Service agents were among the most remarkable revelations of Thursday’s hearing. The committee featured snippets of radio traffic, a series of messages exchanged by security officials monitoring the traffic from the White House, and testimony from one of those officials. The anonymous witness said he could tell the danger that Pence and Secret Service agents were in because agents were yelling and screaming, and some sent “very personal” messages to have colleagues tell their families goodbye for them. “It sounds like that we came very close to either ... having to use lethal options, or worse,” the official said. “At that point, I don’t know. Is the VP compromised? Is the detail? I don’t know. ... If they’re screaming and saying things like, ‘say goodbye to the family' ... this is going to a whole ’nother level soon.”